A blowout preventer is a device or valve which is used to seal, monitor, and control oil wells. They were created to deal with the enormous pressure created by the oil reservoir while drilling. However, when a kick occurs, this can lead to an extreme event known as a blowout, which is occurred on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
These preventers are essential to providing safety to the crew, rig, and surrounding environment. When these blowout preventers fail, they often cause an immense amount of damage to the environment, illness to people and wildlife, damages to property, and even cost people jobs.
If you or a family member is suffering from the aftermath of an oil spill due to the negligent actions of another individual or entity, our BP oil spill lawyers believe the victims may be entitled to compensation for all losses and damages that occurred including; medical expenses, funeral expenses, loss of wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.
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Uses of a Blowout Preventer
Blowout preventers can be applied to many different types of units, thus there are many different sizes, styles, and pressure ratings used. In any case, all preventers are designed to keep the crew, rig, and environment safe from oil spills.
A few functions of a blowout preventer include:
- Allow for certain amounts of fluids to be taken from the wellbore
- Allow for fluids to be added to wellbore
- Allow for severing of the casing or drill pipe in emergencies
- Keep well fluid in wellbore
- Kill the well to prevent the formation of fluid
- Monitor and regulation of wellbore pressure
- Sealing of the wellhead to close the wellbore
In the case where a blowout preventer and the mud fail to restrict the outward pressures of the kick, it will result in a blowout, which can shoot oil, gas, and tubing up through the wellbore, and ultimately damage the rig.
Types of Blowout Preventers
Blowout preventers are found in two different types, while they are often used in harmony on drilling rig blowout preventer stacks. In most cases, there will be at least one single annular preventer which will cap a stack of several ram blowout preventers.
The two types of blowout preventers include:
Ram Blowout Preventer
The ram blowout preventer was invented in 1922 and was marketed in 1924. These blowout preventers used two steel plungers which oppose each other, giving them the name rams. These rams move towards the middle of the wellborn in order to either restrict the flow or retract to permit the flow of oil or gas. These rams are commonly found in four different types including; blind rams, blind sheer rams, pipe rams, and shear rams.
Annular Blowout Preventer
The annular blowout preventer was invented in 1946, which was later patented in the United States in 1952. This preventer is often referred to as the Hydril after the name of a common manufacturer of the device. These annular preventers are effective to maintain a seal around the drill pipe and can be used even while the drill is rotating. In most cases these blowout preventers will be found at the top of a stack positioned over several ram preventers.
In most instances, these blowout preventers will work in unison to prevent a blowout from occurring. Of course, sometimes there are unavoidable events, which blowouts do occur and can cause an immense amount of damages, injuries, and even deaths.
Deepwater Horizon Blowout
As of 2010, the most well-known incident where a blowout preventer failed was on the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. On this oil rig, the blowout preventer was intended to activate itself automatically, which would cut the drill string and seal the well to protect against an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. However, the blowout preventer failed to automatically activate, while underwater robots would be needed to manually trigger the blind shear ram preventer, which also failed to work.
Overall, the Deepwater Horizon blowout would lead to 2.6 million gallons of oil to invade the Gulf of Mexico every day until it was finally cut off on July 18, 2010. This would lead to an estimated 200 million gallons of oil gushing into the gulf, 11 deaths, and dozens of injuries.
Contact an Experienced Houston Oil Spill Attorney
At Arguello, Hope, and Associates, our goal is to protect the rights of the residents in our community by protecting them against negligent acts performed by other people or entities. Our attorneys will work relentlessly to satisfy our clients every need and will go above and beyond in seeking the MAXIMUM compensation benefits you deserve.
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- La Porte
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